Veteran educator is UHS Distinguished Alumna

Veteran educator is UHS Distinguished Alumna
Posted on 04/20/2022
This is the image for the news article titled Veteran educator is UHS Distinguished AlumnaThe Distinguished Alumni Committee is pleased to announce that Vernie Heeney has been selected to be the 2022 Distinguished Alumna for Uintah High School.

"We are honored to recognize Vernie for her many years of service to the students of the Uintah Basin and to the community at-large," committee chairman and Uintah High Assistant Principal Scott Mansfield said.

"Vernie is truly a great example of hard work, dedication, and service and we are proud to recognize her accomplishments as a Uintah Ute," Mansfield added.

Heeney was born in Vernal in 1951, where she spent the first five years of her life before her family moved to Craig, Colorado. The family returned to Vernal while Heeney was still in elementary school and she finished her education in Uintah County, graduating from Uintah High School in 1969. She attended Marymount College of Kansas, graduating in 1974 with a double major in elementary education and psychology.

Heeney taught fifth grade at St. Mary’s Elementary in Salina, Kansas, and fourth grade at St. Andrew’s in Tipton, Missouri. Then she moved back to Vernal, where she began a 30-year career, teaching in the Uintah School District at Maeser, Ashley, Davis and Discovery elementary schools. Heeney taught her students to think for themselves, find the facts, enjoy learning and help others.

After returning to college to earn her Special Education Certificate, Heeney taught Special Education for 14 years. Teaching English to adults at night was a joy in her teaching career. She also taught in the “Connections” after-school program and in the Gifted and Talented program. She was involved in the Uintah County Education Association, serving as a faculty representative and secretary.

Heeney has always been civic minded and served on the following boards: Uintah Recreation, Women’s Softball League, Uintah Care Center and Vernal City Planning and Zoning. She was in charge of the Multiple Sclerosis Walk for five years and was an election judge for many years. She is active in her church and has served on the St. James Parish Council as a member and president. Vernie served on the Salt Lake Diocesan Pastoral Council as president and as a representative. Helping with the Vernal UTAH Storytelling Festival has been a pleasure as well.

After retiring from teaching, Heeney was asked to serve on the Uintah Schools Foundation, where she served as president and was instrumental in starting the Clearinghouse, which gathers materials from retiring teachers and others, and gives them to teachers needing supplies for their classroom. Vernie spearheaded a used book sale in 2020, helping put books in people’s hands instead of the landfill. She continues to help stock the Foundation bookcases with used books at Market on Main. She is still deeply interested in education and supports and encourages educators in the Uintah School District.

Heeney truly believes that, “To teach is to touch a life forever.”

Congratulations to Vernie Heeney on being selected as the 2022 Uintah High Distinguished Alumna! She will be honored during an assembly at Uintah High School on May 9.
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